The men, women and machines that make the roads safer for us in the sometimes treacherous conditions of winter have been blessed.
A service of blessing took place at Lincolnshire County Council’s Highways Depot at Pode Hole on Wednesday, to coincide with similar acts across the county.
There are six gritters at Pode Hole, out of a total of 43 across the county that salt more than 2,000km of roads in total.
The blessing is a tradition going back many years, and gritter driver of 16 years Pete Handford, of Billingborough, says it is something that is generally appreciated.
“I value it, definitely,” he said. “It can be dangerous, and we are the first on the ice and the snow.”
The Rev Steve Weatherley-Barton, of Gosberton Baptist Church and chairman of Churches Together in Spalding & District, led the prayers. Gathered for the service were drivers and staff from Kier, the contractor that carries out road maintenance and gritting for the county council, Pode Hole depot staff and Coun Elizabeth Sneath.
Spalding Methodist minister the Rev Frances Ballantyne then led prayers for those on the front line when incidents happen, such as police, ambulance, fire and rescue, as well as paramedics, doctors and nurses and other medical staff and those called to work with the victims and families of road accidents.
Vicar of Gosberton the Rev Ian Walters prayed for the advances in technology that make our lives more comfortable and safe. He also asked for blessing on those who work to protect us when we travel, including those who go out in bad weather to grit our roads to keep them safer.
Lauren Brown, area manager for Kier, explained that the 2,000km of gritted roads were out of a total 9,000km across Lincolnshire, and added: “The blessing is something we have always done.”
Her colleague, Kier gritter driver and supervisor Tom Ruck agreed the blessing was a tradition that has taken place each winter for as long as he can remember.
I value it, definitely (as) it can be dangerous and we are the first (ones) on the ice and the snowPete Handford, a gritter driver from Billingborough
The Rev Walters explained that prayers being said at all the depots were by representatives of different denominations, using prayers provided by Churches Together in All Lincolnshire.
Blessing ceremonies took place at each of the county’s eight depots, with the Bishop of Lincoln, the Right Rev Christopher Lowson, conducting the service at the Sturton-by-Stow depot.